What We're Watching: George Floyd murder trial gets underway, Myanmar military's brutal crackdown, terror siege in Mozambique

What We're Watching: George Floyd murder trial gets underway, Myanmar military's brutal crackdown, terror siege in Mozambique

George Floyd murder trial: Ten months after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died under the knee of a white police officer on a Minneapolis street corner, the murder trial of that officer, Derek Chauvin, has finally kicked off . Chauvin is facing three charges including second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The footage of Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd's neck — and Floyd's cry of "I can't breathe" — galvanized anti-racism protests, some of which turned violent, across the United States last summer. And around the world, people in countries as varied as the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Japan, France, Portugal, and Brazil also rose up to confront racial injustice within their own societies. Within the US, Floyd's killing has sparked a new movement pushing for more police accountability, as well as broader criminal justice reform. But it also inflamed political tensions, with many right-leaning Americans pushing back, contending that police are forced to confront dangerous situations and should be given more leeway to conduct their duties in defense of public order. Whatever happens in the Floyd trial, which is likely to take months, the outcome will surely inflame tensions and create a new wave of unrest in a very divided US — and perhaps even abroad.


Military crackdown intensifies in Myanmar: As pro-democracy protesters show no signs of backing down, Myanmar's generals have struck back with lethal force to disperse the crowds. Over the weekend the military junta launched airstrikes on ethnic groups near the Thai border, leading to 100 deaths on Saturday alone, the highest daily toll since the crisis began nine weeks ago. The military cracked down again the following day, opening fire at a funeral procession outside Yangon for a 20-year-old killed in clashes the previous day. The death toll since the military seized power on February 1 now stands at 459, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, though the true toll is thought to be higher. The Biden administration, meanwhile, says it is working on a "plan" to address the situation as fears of a possible civil war in Myanmar grow. But details are scarce, and so far, the economic sanctions that Washington has imposed on the junta appear to have had little effect.

Mozambique insurgency escalates: Dozens of people, including at least seven foreigners, were killed over the weekend when local jihadists laid siege to a town in northern Mozambique that serves as the base for a massive offshore natural gas development. For more than three years now, fighters belonging to the "Al-Shabaab" militant group have been waging a brutal insurgency in the surrounding Cabo Delgado province that has killed thousands and displaced close to 700,000 people. Although the fighters claim loose ties to the Islamic State — and have adopted familiar ISIS tactics of beheadings, kidnappings, and ruthless destruction of schools and hospitals — domestic economic grievances appear to play a big role: Cabo Delgado is one of the poorest regions of Mozambique, and many locals don't feel they are set to benefit from the recent discovery of massive natural gas reserves there. Given the natural gas stakes, the area is crawling with foreign mercenary groups hired to protect energy company workers. The US recently announced that its special forces would work with Mozambican troops to quash the insurgency. Given this weekend's brazen attack, the militants don't appear to be overly concerned about Uncle Sam just yet.

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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Listen: In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer, Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert assesses the current state of the climate crisis and answers a simple question: how screwed are we? And as the climate continues to warm at a record pace, she unpacks some of the more extreme climate solutions that some increasingly desperate nations are starting to consider. Such measures may sound like stuff of science fiction (see: injecting sulfur particles into the atmosphere or shooting millions of tiny orbital mirrors into outer space) as times become more desperate, their appeal is growing. Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

China is making its neighbors nervous these days. Chinese fighter jets are screaming into Taiwan's airspace. Hundreds of armed Chinese "fishing boats" are plying the disputed waters of the South China Sea. And Beijing is slashing imports from some trading partners because of disputes over political issues.

To push back against this increasingly aggressive behavior, regional powers Japan, India, and Australia, together with the US, are boosting cooperation via a 17-year-old grouping called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or simply "The Quad." But how effectively can these four countries really work together to counter China? Eurasia Group's Peter Mumford discusses the Quad's future.

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Want to tackle climate change? If so you'll have to reach out to China, which is currently responsible for over a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions. Beijing will certainly take your call, as climate is a huge priority for President Xi Jinping.

Xi has promised that China will go "net zero" — meaning its carbon emissions will be offset by equal amounts of either natural or tech-driven carbon capture — by 2060. Is a decade later than most of the top 10 polluting countries fast enough for the rest of the world? It is for the Chinese, who want to help but have their own ideas about how.

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When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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Can "the Quad" constrain China?

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